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Judge Not!--Skeel

Like many Americans, I spent the weekend judging John Edwards. Edwards’ presidential campaign was steeped in morality-- a populist condemnation of the rich and a promise to fight for those left behind. In retrospect, his judgment on the wealthy looks like a case of seeing the speck in others’ eyes without recognizing the log in his own, exactly the kind of self righteousness that Jesus warned against in Matthew 7:1-5. (The full passage is here).

Only later, after I had been thinking about specks and logs for some time, did it occur to me that Jesus’s warning to “Judge Not!” applies to me too. Judging our politicians is only one of many ways our culture seems to encourage subtle and not so subtle condemnation of those around us. Nearly every reality show on TV derives its popularity from the opportunity it gives to its viewers to cast judgment on the hapless people in the show. Watching dysfunctional families and clueless celebrities enables us to exalt ourselves, at least a little and at least in our own minds. In a real sense, ours is a judgment society.

One of the most powerful examples of a community that genuinely took Jesus’s instruction to heart is the Amish community that was roiled by the murders of five of its children at a one room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania two years ago. Rather than condemning the family of the murderer, as surely they were tempted to do, the community forgave the murderer’s family and has reached out to them. (A friend just highly recommended Amish Grace, by Kraybill, Nolt and Weaver-Zercher, which tells this story.)

If I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure I could do what they’ve done. But it may be possible– I pray it is– to spend more time in the coming days grieving for the Edwards family and less time playing the judgment game.

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Comments ( 8 )

I do grieve for Edwards and I fervently hope he seeks the Lord and his forgiveness. The sexual sins are ferocious and our culture is steeped in them. We men should be able to empathize with him in this.

That said, I wish that some politician at some point in time would decide to tell the truth, not when they have to because it is going to come out anyway but because it is the right thing to do.

I'm trying to suppress feelings of satisfaction; it's hard because Edwards has been my least favorite politician for quite awhile. I always saw him as an evil, unscrupulous man who appealed to and exploited people's worst, greediest, most covetous instincts and tried to incite class warfare, so it's tempting to be satisfied that now, other people realize what a hypocrite and liar he was (and, of course, as he continues to be disingenuous about it, he's just making it worse).

But mostly, I've suppressed those feelings--this particular sin is one that even some of the most scrupulous men have committed, and I imagine it's awful for his family to have this attention.

Right now I'm just trying to focus on how happy I am that he won't ever be attorney general. Cause aside, that's the happiest political news I've heard in well over a year.

I think there is some confusion here. If you continue to the following verse of the passage quoted, it reads, "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." Isn't judgment required in order to figure out who the dogs and the pigs are? My point is that there are times when the Lord does call us to judge, but, as is usual with Christ, He is concerned with our heart. Isn't it a particular kind of judging that He is condemning in vs. 1-5? With what motivation are we judging? Is it so that we might look good or feel proud about our own righteousness? We fool ourselves. We have no righteousness but for that imputed to us by Christ. Or, are we judging so that we might make proper decisions and do what is right? Does Christ condemn us for that? I don't think so.

So what should we do with Edwards? Jesus broadened the law and said that if you lust after a woman in your heart you have committed adultery. By this statement isn't He more than suggesting that each of us is guilty of adultery? His statement doesn't exonerate Edwards, but it certainly condemns those who might in true publican-manner be bold enough to be thanking God that they aren't like Edwards. We are all like Edwards. But, would I be wrong to judge Edwards's behavior in the voting booth by reasoning that if he can't keep the most important promise that he ever made to his wife, will he keep the promises he has made to the American people?

A quick thought on the last comment, which I think also will relate to some extent to the earlier comments. I probably should have included the pearls before swine passage (Matthew 7:6) since it does seem to me to make clear that Jesus's isn't forbidding all judgement. I think Jesus's particular concern is with the condemnatory motives we so often have when we assess someone else's behavior. I don't think he's prohibiting discernment-- for instance, deciding whether a politician's personal misbehavior warrants withholding one's vote from him or her. But in Edwards' case, I feel as though a large portion of my own initial reaction was condemnatory, rather than based on appropriate motives.

Judge not, sure, I won't judge Mr. Edwards relationship with God. But I will discern. Jesus said that I would know them by their fruits. Is this a person who should lead?

Darrell

As a former Congressman(at that time Iwas single) I became well aware of the seductiveness of power and the temptations it offered.

Edwards greatest disservice to America and it is not unique to him is his constant refrain that the American wealth disparity is greater than any where else and it is caused by a flawed system.

Neither Christianity nor capitalism will make a person good or rich it will give them the opportunity to be both in a free society. He got rich but not good.

As a former Congressman(at that time Iwas single) I became well aware of the seductiveness of power and the temptations it offered.

Edwards greatest disservice to America and it is not unique to him is his constant refrain that the American wealth disparity is greater than any where else and it is caused by a flawed system.

Neither Christianity nor capitalism will make a person good or rich it will give them the opportunity to be both in a free society. He got rich but not good.

While the Amish gave us a beautiful image of God's forgiveness we should not be misled into thinking they forgave the terrible act of cold blooded murder, only the misguided human who committed the crime. I forgive you does not mean I condone your acts or affirm your lifestyle. How depressing to think of this Great God we serve as an overly indulgent parent embracing the antics of His children and thereby becoming a party to them as so many revisionist would have us believe.